It is the last day of 2018, and we decided to take the boys on a hike. The question is, where? Welcome to The Hippie Geeks. If you enjoy this video, be sure to subscribe and hit the bell notification icon to catch all our new videos!
2018 was a pretty rough year for our family in general, and we wanted to end it on a high note. We decided to take the boys hiking at Sweet Creek Falls, which is just outside of Mapleton. The trail head is about 55 miles from the west side of Eugene, and we figured that it would take us a bit over an hour to get there. With our lunches made, day packs filled and changes of clothes in the van it was time to head out.
It ended up being a perfect winter day for a hike, with no rain all day and the sun even showed up to take the edge off the chill. Highway 126 connects Eugene and Mapleton, and to say that it is curvy would be a bit of an understatement. The boys read their books, while Lindsay and I talked about the year and the upcoming hike.
The hike into Sweet Creek Falls is 2.2 miles from the lower parking lot and then the same back out. However, we accidentally discovered that there is an upper parking lot that is only about half a mile from the waterfall. More on that later though. The drive was uneventful, right up until the point when Sam told us he felt like he was going to throw up.
Remember when I said that the boys were reading their books? Well, Sam suffers from motion sickness, especially when he decides to read his book on a curving road when sunlight is slanting thru the trees like a strobe light. We pulled over so the poor guy could throw up, then got him cleaned up and headed back on our way. Now, as you are coming up the hill to the trailhead, you will see a very small sign off to the right with a parking lot behind it. This is where we should have pulled in, as it is the beginning of the trail that makes its way up the creek, ending at the waterfall in 2.2 miles. However, if you do what I did, you will continue driving another mile and a half up the road until you reach a very large sign stating that you have made it to the Sweet Creek Falls trailhead. If you start from there, the waterfall is only about half a mile down the trail. However, we are going to pretend that I parked in the right place, as we did walk the entire trail, just not in the order we thought we would be doing it.
As you leave the parking lot, you pretty much immediately walk to the edge of Sweet Creek, and the path follows it all the way to the waterfall. We ended up crossing the first of several wooden bridges and made the first amazing discovery of the day. These little fungus bowls look like nests full of eggs. We had seen pictures of them before, but this was the first time that we had seen them in person and it was super cool.
At the beginning of the trail there are several benches at various lookout points that give you a chance to sit and just take in the creek. While the goal of the hike is to see Sweet Creek Falls, the entire creek is filled with smaller falls, anywhere from a foot tall to five feet tall all the way up. The trail isn’t super strenuous, but it does rise most of the way so it will be a solid amount of walking.
One of the coolest parts of this trail are these supported catwalk sections that hang over the creek, allowing the path to continue even when there is a sheer cliff along the creek which is really cool. The floor is a square grid which smaller dogs may have trouble walking on, but we did see several larger dogs handling it just fine. Along the way as you follow the trail, there are several more major waterfalls that you will get to see, each one being another surprise that was not at all expected.
Finally you have traveled a little over two miles, and you reach Sweet Creek Falls. It was flowing pretty well as we have had some rain recently, and we climbed down by the water to listen to its roar. Once we had taken in the waterfall for a little while, we decided to take the last section of trail and went to the top overlook. It was a bit slippery, but it isn’t a very long section of trail, so we made it to the top pretty quickly. From the lookout you get a chance to check out the upper section of the waterfall, and then it is time to head back out.
We still had a bit of daylight left, and once we made it back to the van we headed to Florence and then to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area. We wanted to be on the beach with the boys watching the last sunset of 2018, and we made it. Not only did we make it, mother nature put on a beautiful show for us and the sunset was amazing. After playing on the beach as the light dimmed, we headed back to the van, and then towards home. It was an amazing experience with the boys, and I cannot think of a better way to spend the last day of 2018.
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